A face without freckles is like a sky without stars

stripe trench coat

(Terrible weather = no new photos, so this one is an out-take from this older post…)

Last week while I was looking for things to purge from the house (Aside: I think I started off too enthusiastically with this. The first few days, I got rid of armloads of stuff: now I’m fast running out of items I am willing to part with. In fact, I might have to start purging Terry’s stuff instead.) (I’m joking, Terry: Bobby the monkey really DID run off to join the circus, I swear…) I came across a carrier bag containing a bunch of old journals from when I was a tortured teenager. I was quite relieved to find them, actually, because I hadn’t seen them in a while and had been imagining they’d fallen into The Wrong Hands and that any day now I’d get an anonymous letter made up of words clipped from a newspaper, telling me that unless I left a certain number of unmarked banknotes in the phonebox on the corner by 5pm,  my childhood diaries would be published on the Internet.

Now, you’d think that wouldn’t really phase me much, given that I’ve essentially been publishing my diary on this very website for years now. You would be wrong, though. See, I always smile inwardly when people say they write blogs “just for themselves”. I actually wrote those journals “just for myself”. I wrote them without fear that anyone would ever read them; without having to worry that if I complained about the weather, someone would come along and point out that some people don’t GOT no weather, or that if I said anything even vaguely negative, people would remind me that I have a lot of shoes, and that no-one with a lot of shoes can possibly ever have even the slightest reason to ever feel down about ANYTHING. Just sayin’.

(I really wish it was true, this idea that shoes somehow act as a protective barrier between their owner and any kind of unhappiness. Because trust me: they don’t.)

The result of that kind of uncensored honesty? Well, let’s just say there’s a HUGE difference between writing “for yourself” and writing “for the entire internet”. My journal from when I was 14, for instance, is almost entirely dedicated to the fascinating subject of  my freckles, and how they, and they alone, are the reason I don’t have a boyfriend, and also am not a successful show-jumping detective. I was tortured by those freckles. TORTURED. I even created a handy little pull-out booklet in which I discussed the freckles (and the other aspects of my appearance which caused me grief. Let’s just say it was a LONG booklet…) at length, and pondered how I could get rid of them, before coming to the sad conclusion that really, I couldn’t get rid of them, but that I would probably get my fringe cut before school started back in the autumn, seeing as I wasn’t allowed to have my perm straightened. (There is a helpful diagram of the fringe at this point. Yes, really.) I really wish I was making this up purely for comedic value, but I’m not: there is an ACTUAL booklet, and trust me, there is absolutely nothing funny about it, because I was TOTALLY SERIOUS YOO GUYZ.

(I also frequently mixed up “to” and “too”. I don’t know what disturbed me more when I re-read it as an adult: that or the obsession with the freckles…)

It was pretty painful reading, in other words. And also really confusing, because, just to make a mockery of everything I’ve written above, most of it – and The Idiot’s Guide to Amber’s Freckles in particular – is written as if I’m talking to someone, or possibly a LOT of someones. There’s a lot of “as you all know, my freckles are the most interesting subject in the whole entire world” and “most of you probably remember how much I hate my freckles” and that kind of thing. WHO WAS I TALKING TO? Who were the members of this massive, fictional audience who I seemed to presume were every bit as obsessed with my skincare routine as I obviously was? Did I think it would one day be published or something? Had all that perm lotion seeped into my bloodstream and driven me to the point of madness, or had I somehow, in some small way, forseen the future of blogging, and thought I better get in some practice?

You know the funniest thing about all of this? Which is not actually particularly funny, but really kind of tragic? These days my freckles are barely even noticeable, other than in the summer, when I get a giant one right on the end of my nose, and all of the existing ones come out to say hello. And I do not care when that happens, because if I think about them at all, which I hardly ever do, I actually quite like them. They help create the illusion of  some colour in my cheeks, and stop people asking me if I’m ill all the time, when all I am is pale. I cannot now, for the life of me, understand why I hated them so much. Especially when there were so many other things I could have justifiably hated instead. Hello, monobrow!

(I mean, in my younger self’s defence, the freckles were a lot more obvious when I was younger. I very much doubt they were the reason I was generally shunned by society, though. I would imagine that probably had more to do with the fact that I was the kind of girl who wrote entire booklets about her freckles…)

I wish I could go back in time and tell my 14-year-old self to stop stressing about those freckles – and all of the other things she found to obsess over. I mean, who knows, if I hadn’t spent all that time worrying about my freckles, maybe I would be in the Olympic show-jumping team by now after all? I don’t think I’d ever have made it as a detective, though. Sorry, 14-year-old self.

(You were totally right about the perm, though…)

(P.S. The title of this post is not a dig at people who don’t have freckles, although I fully expect the offended comments to roll in any second now. It’s a lyric from a song I found after writing this post, and which actually sums up what I was thinking much better than I did: “Freckles”, by Natasha Beddingfield)


18 Comments

  • char says:

    “and that no-one with a lot of shoes can possibly ever have even the slightest reason to ever feel down about ANYTHING. Just sayin’.”
    This is something I have lost count of the times I’ve been told!
    I live in fear that someone will find one of my journals when they pop over for a cup of tea or something, I have to have a quick run around the place and hide them before I let them in!

    • Amber says:

      You too?! I get it all the time – and don’t get me wrong, I love my shoes, but… they’re just shoes, you know?

      I’m actually wondering what the hell to do with mine now that I’ve rediscovered them. I don’t really like to throw them away, but I’m terrified that if something happened to me, people WOULD actually read them – I can actually barely stand to re-read them myself now, so it’s not like they’re a rich source of entertainment to me, either!

  • Sandy P says:

    I have some “journals” from a fair few years ago and TBH I sound extremely selfish….unfortunately my teen diary was binned a long time ago. I do recall some of even now tho….once when I was 13 and a boy kissed me on the cheek!! I was ecstatic (even if I can’t spell it!) but my mum had said he was “precocious” so I had to look it up and explain it to myself….also had to look up “pimp” as a boy we all fancied at ice skating was apparently one. I’m sounding a touch sheltered now? LOL!

    My teen obssessional “hate” was a mole above my knee….I thought it was GINORMOUS and everyone was talking about it. I look at it now and think…is that IT?? (It’s tiny)

    Ahem…right, I need to get out from behnd my shimmery past curtain! (I’ve been listening to electronic 80s music which isn’t helping! LOLOL!!)

  • Funny how teenagers stress about their appearance so much as we get older we realise it is part of who we are and start to love the things that make us different.

    Such a beautiful photograph, the stripes look perfect with your beautiful hair.

    • Amber says:

      I wouldn’t say I’ve learned to love things, exactly: I think I’ve just moved on to other things to obsess over. This is definitely something I need to work on!

  • Erika says:

    I too had a ‘few’ freckles that I wished would have just gone away. Now, I kind of miss the few that were on my nose. It was very silly, now thinking back on those little things that caused so much grief to our younger selves. I wonder if in ten years time, I will think the silly things of appearance that I am bothered by now will be nothing more than silliness as well. I am still working on embracing the things that make me different… Great photo, btw. :-)

    • Amber says:

      It’s definitely interesting to look back on these. I even have photos I took for my shoe challenge just a couple of years ago that I refused to post because I thought I looked SO BAD in them, and now if I come across them I can’t really see what’s wrong with them. On the other hand, there are other ones which make me want to die with embarrassment. It’ll be interesting to see how I feel in another few years’ time!

  • I think I was pretty much oblivious to how I looked until my very late teens, which is a shame as my hair must have been bang on trend in the 80s and I didn’t even realise.

    I cringe to admit it, but I had heard of Anne Frank (I hadn’t read her diary) and had this idea that in decades to come my diary would be treated like hers – as an accurate document of life at this exact period in history. I very much wrote with an audience in mind! And I was so glad when my mum moved house and chucked all my old diaries out without asking me – I live in fear of somebody unearthing them at the local dump.

    • Amber says:

      Haha, I share your shame… I think this particular diary was supposed to be SECRIT, but I know some of the earlier ones were written in full expectation of future publication. I know this because I’ve written little blurbs in the fly-leaf of some of them explaining that they’ve been written for the benefit of future generations, so that they will finally be able to undersaaaaaaaand what it was like being a teenager in the late twentieth century. Because there was no other way they could have gotten that information, obviously. I used to imagine how fascinated they would be my my ramblings, and the insight it would give them – I really should have gotten out more!

  • Haha, as always, this post made me giggle out loud!

    I discovered my old diaries last year, tortured things that are filled with overly floral language and one hell of a lot of waxing lyrical about what boy I was madly in love with that week (and I used to think I rejected all the “teenage girl” stereotypes!), and how due to This, That and The Other, noone could possibly ever love me back. That and the regular “Kevin” moments made it an utterly cringey read second time round!

  • Fran says:

    When I was a child I wanted to be a redhead with freckles. So there. ;)

  • Suzanne says:

    I wish I had some of my diaries when I was younger. I’m sure they would have been ridiculous however it would have been cool to have a glimpse into what was me at the time. I kept so many and have no idea whatsoever what happened to them. I blame it all on my parents though since they moved so often I’m sure they were chucked out with a bunch of trash. They hardly have any photos of me either. I almost think I might have been someone else’s kid.

    I do have some diaries from when I was in my early 20’s that I find very enjoyable to read and re-read…if you know what I mean (wink wink say no more say no more). Sure some parts are stupid, but most of them are filled with excitement, and crazy wonderful times with nary a lick of regret. Sadly when I married, my husband made me get rid of most of them. I managed to hang onto 3 little ones that I treasure. They aren’t for anyone else to read, just for me to relive a bit of my crazy wild past every once in a while.

    Bisous
    Suzanne
    http://bisous.typepad.com/bisous/

  • Katie says:

    If there was anything that reading kids books had taught me, it was that journals were always discovered and read by the journaller’s descendants and are beautifully written. And you will always somehow know that one day, your journal will be discovered and enjoyed by someone in the future and it will either solve a mystery or give them a new one to solve.

    This is the way of journals.

    I think you should scan your freckle pamphlet. It sounds completely awesome.

    • Amber says:

      Haha, this is so true – I think I must have read those same children’s books, and been a little too influenced by them. Those and The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer…

  • Cookie says:

    I never read my old journal(s) though I did keep one. But I did keep all 14 or more of the thick hard-back notebooks I used to write all my short stories in throughout my high school.
    And the “A face without freckles is like a sky without stars” is a quite popular saying here in Croatia where it even rhymes: “Lice bez pjegica- nebo bez zvjezdica”, and was something my family would say to me when I complained about my freckles when I was a child.
    I do remember, however, some soap my mother got me once which was supposed to help get rid of them. I think it was something mercury-based. Freaky.

  • Sarita says:

    Instead of journals, I have all my “notes” passed back and forth between my friends and me from middle school. I store them at my parents’ house, so when I go home for the holidays I can pull them out to remind myself what a shallow, vapid, boy-crazy, b**** I was at 13. Man I should really burn those, but somehow I can’t bring myself to.

    If you’re purging that amazing trench coat, I’ll give you $5 cash, American, for it. ;)

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